It is no different on the football pitch. For every Paolo Maldini and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, there is an Emerson and Jeremy Toulalan.
Goal.com names the Top 10 Old-Looking Footballers…
Please note some of the comments below are satirical
10) Trifon Ivanov (Bulgaria)
There are many scary-looking people in this list, but none scarier than former Bulgarian international Ivanov. Nicknamed ‘The Bulgarian Wolf’ due to his thick beard and ridiculous greying mullet, Ivanov single-handedly took 'The Lions' to the semi-final of USA ’94 by frightening every opponent into submission. Few could have believed that Little Red Riding Hood's nemesis was only 28 at the time.
9) Obafemi Martins (Nigeria)
I was told by a Lagos-born football fan at the 2006 World Cup that Obafemi Martins was born in 1978. The claim being that this fan grew up in the same neighbourhood as the Newcastle striker in the early 1980s. This assertion may be a load of cobblers – the rumours have been going around for years – one thing for certain is that Martins is an old-looking 24.
Martins does one somersault for every year of his life
8) Sergio Batista (Argentina)
Batista is like Benjamin Button - he ages backwards. Now coach of Argentina Under-20s, a clean-shaven 46-year-old Batista could probably pass as someone 10 years his junior. However, at the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, Batista was more likely to be mistaken for a retired revolutionary in a Che Guevara Marxist group, with his six inch thick beard.
7) Horst Hrubesch (Germany)
The term ‘beast of a frontman’ was probably born thanks to Hrubesch. The ex-Hamburg hitman scored twice in West Germany’s Euro ’80 final win over Belgium, and also excelled at the World Cup two years later as a hulking battering-ram striker, who won everything in the air. Hrubesch is now the coach of Germany Under-21s, and 27 years on from Spain he hasn’t aged one bit. The problem is he already looked 58 back in 1982.
'The Monster' emerges from the Rhine Forest in 1980
6) Giuseppe Bergomi (Italy)
Bergomi’s nickname ‘Lo Zio’ – The Uncle – says it all about this legendary former defender. The one-club Inter symbol was a World Cup winner in 1982 at the age of 18, memorably man-marking Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in the final. With a moustache to make Friedrich Nietzsche proud, and a maturity beyond his years, commentators and journalists refused to believe that Bergomi was only a teenager. Bergomi, who currently works as a pundit for SKY Italia, looks younger now at 45 than he did in 1982.
Here comes The Uncle with his slipper
5) Dieter Eilts (Germany)
Eilts was a virtual unknown 31-year-old when he turned up with the Germany squad in England for Euro ’96. The Werder Bremen legend, with his receding hairline, grumpy frown, and skinny frame cut the figure of a frail, old man. Eilts surprisingly played a starring holding role in midfield as Die Mannschaft won the cup, nevertheless you would have been forgiven for thinking that Eilts was a same-generation relative of then coach Berti Vogts.
Berti Vogts' long-lost cousin?
4) Jeremy Toulalan (France)
Toulalan is not the first grey-haired footballer – before him there was Roberto Bettega, Antonios Nikopolidis, Fabrizio Ravanelli, and even David Ginola. But there is something about Toulalan that has you shouting ‘granddad’ at the TV set. You can bet your house that 25-year-old Toulalan’s hobbies include golf, chess and opera, while he still uses a wooden racket when he plays tennis.
There’s nothing ooh-la-la about Toulalan
3) Dieter Hoeness (Germany)
West Germany were trailing Argentina 2-0 in the 1986 World Cup final when an old-looking man wandered onto the pitch with 25 minutes to go. Dieter Hoeness was already 33 at the time, but his tendency to gasp for breath after every five-yard dash, together with a bald head and scary eyebrows, added at least another 20 years. At times during that final in the unbearable midday sun of Mexico City, Hoeness looked like he was going to collapse with heat-stroke, but he helped inspire the Germans to level the scores at 2-2, only for Jorge Burruchaga to save Argentina’s blushes.
Hoeness proud to be Germany's oldest looking footballer
2) Emerson (Milan)
In the first few years of this decade he was one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. In the last few years of the noughties, he metamorphosed into a cult figure of fun due to his pedestrian performances at Milan. Everyone remembers the Calcio Comedy on Emerson robbing the grocery store back in 1950 as a 12-year-old. That would make the Brazilian a very believable 71 now. Just how did he outrun the chasing police?
Brazil's Most Wanted - the 1950 grocery thief
1) Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Mexico)
At the 1998 World Cup, this forward invented a new skill – ‘the Blanco jump’ where he trapped the ball between both feet before jumping in between two defenders in tight spaces. Blanco remains a legend in his homeland, a true fantasy footballer who won over 100 caps for his country. Not a soul in Mexico cares that Blanco has been around since the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution.
Blanco was Zapata's right-hand man in the 1910's
What are your views on this topic? Who do you believe to be the oldest-looking footballer? Anyone who we did not include on this list? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think…
Carlo Garganese, Goal.com